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Someone turned and air conditioner on and forgot to turn it off, well that’s the feeling you get in New Zealand. During summer it’s not bad at all with temperatures reaching the high 20s (Celsius). In winter on the other hand it can be pretty dam cold, especially up in the mountains and in the South Island. The climate in New Zealand is cold, but it is not as cold as many other places in the northern hemisphere such as Canada, Scandinavia, northern Russia, Alaska etc. 

During summer (December – March) the temperature is really nice, with the North Island being warmer than the South Island. In the North Island the day will start around the 12-15 C, and warms up through the day to reach a max of around 24-28 C at 1 or 2 pm. During this time a year a long sleeve shirt or a thin jumper will do the trick for earlier in the morning and later at night. In the South Island on the other hand the max temp is similar to the North Island reaching around 25-27 degree Celsius, but the min drops to 9 degrees Celsius, rising quickly as soon as the sun rises. Keep in mind though that if your are going to venture into the Alps, the temperature up at 2000m can get to well below zero, even during summer, and heavy duty jackets, gloves, bennies, and other warm clothing is recommended. Summer in New Zealand is a time when most families take their holidays and you will see much more people out fishing, having barbeques, going to the beach, lakes, and national parks.

During Winter (June – September) can get pretty tough, with the minimum temperature in the North Island bordering zero, and the top temp reaching only 10 – 14 C. At this time of year it is cold during the whole day, but during the night and early dawn it’s is DAM cold. In the South Island it is a lot worse. The minimum temperature is constantly below zero, and the max will only reach around 6-10 degree C. At this time of year you will need very warm clothing such as thermal clothing, and use a lot of layers. Remember that the body loses heat mostly through our heads, hands and feet and so just by covering them properly you can eliminate a great deal of cold. All houses as well as commercial centres such as shopping centres, shops etc have some form of heating, which is used vigorously during the winter months. During winter heavy snow fall can cause roads to close and cause some other problems, but it makes many people vary happy especially at the many world famous Ski fields of New Zealand.

During Autumn (March – June) the temperature is still not too bad. At this time of the year the leaves on the trees turn to the classic red, yellow and brown colour of Autumn. The contrast between the green grass and the fallen leaves can be very inspirational for photographers and painter. The temperature will start at around 8 degree C reaching up to a max of 20 – 21 degrees C in the North Island. In the South Island the maximum is only slightly cooler, but the min can drop to 2 – 6 degree C. The closer it come to winter the more jumpers, sweaters, jackets, socks, beanies etc..  you will need.

During Spring (September - December), is the time that New Zealand is at its most beautiful. The snow up on the mountains has started to melt, making the rivers much stronger and water falls much more powerful. Spring is also the time for the flowers to bloom, and the variety of colours is just a spectacular. The temperature is to Autumn, although a little colder in the early morning.

The Water Temperature, in the summer is reasonably warm at the North Island reaching 20 degrees on average. For the surfers a thin rash shirt or spring suit will help to keep you warm If there is a bit of wind, if there is no wind you won’t even need that, boardies and bare back will do. In the South Island it will depend on the city and on the water currents, but on average its around 18 -19 degrees. During winter, apart from the cold air temperature, you will have to deal with a water temp of around 13-14 degrees and will need to use super thick wet suits, and possibly gloves, booties and a hoodie, even so you may only be able to stay out there for short periods of time or you might risk the chance of going to hospital with hypothermia.

Wind - As a result of the low latitude of New Zealand, it is more vulnerable of stronger winds. Auckland is sometimes referred to as the “City of Sails”, not because the wind is particularly strong there, but because the wind is just strong enough to make it perfect for sailing. The central regions of the north island such as Taupo, sometimes receives moderate to strong wind, reaching around 50 – 60 km/h. The capital of Wellington is the champion windy city of New Zealand, so strong that airplanes sometimes have difficulty landing on some days. In the south island it is a lot less windy due to the fact that it is colder. Even so there is days that the whole of New Zealand is punished by those types of winds that almost seems like will turn you into Mary Poppins.  But on the other hand there are also the times when lakes and oceans look more like giant mirrors. The wind direction in New Zealand is predominately west varying to south west. 

Take winter clothes or buy there? If you are going to have to buy new winter clothes, our tip is for you to buy it in New Zealand. Shops like the Warehouse, sell very cheap products, made in china, or places stores like K-mart sell a little better quality clothing still at an economical price, including thermal clothing, which are thin, light and very warm. If you already have good winter clothing then you should take it as you can be shore you are going to need it.

Conclusion: The climate in New Zealand is pretty reasonable, excluding the winter, the rest of the year it is not so bad, and some times even very pleasant. But even in summer it is always good to keep something warmer close by, such as in the car or in a backpack, because you can never control the weather and a pleasant day can suddenly turn into a refrigerator. The best time to travel around NZ is from mid October up to the Christmas time as from Christmas up to the end of January is when New Zealander take their holidays and hotels can be full and prices higher, but it is summer. The worst time to travel is during the winter months from June to September, when it can be extremely cold and many roads may be closed due to snow fall. (unless of course your objective is to Ski)

Temperatures at the moment on the North Island:

Auckland Rotorua - Tauranga Wellington
Click for Auckland, New Zealand Forecast Click for Tauranga, New Zealand Forecast Click for Wellington, New Zealand Forecast

Temperatures at the moment on the South Island:

Nelson Christchurch Queenstown
Click for Nelson, New Zealand Forecast Click for Christchurch, New Zealand Forecast Click for Queenstown, New Zealand Forecast
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